Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~Henry David Thoreau
The first time I ever went trout fishing with Dirt Man was a learning experience. I had no idea I’d have to walk so far into the mountains where the fish “hide” in the creeks.
“Quiet. Watch where you step. You’re making too much noise. You’re gonna scare the fish.” All I hear are the crunching of leaves and breaking of twigs. The birds are louder than me.
“Don’t stand over the edge of the bank. The fish can see you.”
“You’re full of crap!”
“Seriously, the fish can see your shadow and won’t bite. And stop talking the fish can hear you.”
I think there is one of two possibilities. One being these fish are supersensitive and intelligent. Two being that Dirt Man really is full of crap. I decide to go with two.
I sulk at the edge of the bank making sure I don’t cast my shadow over the water. I twiddle my thumbs and think of the millions of other things I could be doing. You know important stuff like gossiping with girlfriends or going shopping. Needless to say, Dirt Man does not catch any fish. And of course, it is all my fault.
Back then I was superficial, and had little appreciation for nature. We had a few more successful trips. Dirt Man bought me my own rod and reel. He taught me to cast a fly rod. I found fly fishing to be more challenging and fun. The simple act of coordinating and controlling the line was enough to keep me entertained. I didn’t care less about catching anything…until I caught one. I jumped up and down like a little kid and demanded he take it off the hook. I even managed to thread a squishing gut-squirting worm onto the curve of the hook. I learned to identify native trout from stock trout. Native are smaller and more colorful. I even found there were different types of trout- rainbow, brook, and brown. I want to say there is even one called cutthroat. But then again maybe I am confusing a description he used. (I obviously was not the best student!)
Even after I became somewhat schooled about trout fishing, we decided it was best for our relationship for Dirt Man to go on his fishing excursions ALONE! Or if I tagged along, I was sure to pack a good novel for my own entertainment. Then we had sons. He had instant fishing companions. Of course, while they were young they made more noise than I ever dreamed. And yes, they even threw rocks into the water! And they fell in a few times as well! Eventually, they absorbed all that Dirt Man tossed their way, and they also came to enjoy fishing for all the same reasons he does.
It has taken me many years to appreciate the true enjoyment of fishing. It has little to do with the fish. They are simply a bonus. (In case you’ve never had a smoked native trout, you have no idea of the delicacy you are missing out on!) It’s all about the solitude. The searching. The connection. If you’ve never experienced it, you won’t understand what I’m talking about. When Dirt Man told me that his being alone was as good for him as the act of fishing, I didn’t get it. It was only until I began to connect with nature and myself while hiking that I truly got it.
Many people fish for fish. Some fish for solitude, silence, and serenity. Others fish for freedom.
Some people are fishers of men.
There are even people who fish for compliments.
I fish for clarity in the connection, the peace and understanding that penetrates my being at any given moment.
What do you fish for in life?